All the President's Men ★★★★★

The thing that never fails to amaze me whenever I watch All The President's Men, and I've seen it several times now, is the way it manages to be a thriller without really being a thriller.

Because it really isn't, is it? Aside from a bit of a scare after one of the meetings with Deep Throat, there are no conventional thrills here. Plus there is the fact that this is, of course, a true story. Yet throughout the majority of its running time, there is an air of tension and feeling of danger running through it that you don't really shake off until the very last reel - even more remarkable in that we all know how this story ends!

The last in Alan J Pakula's 'Paranoia Trilogy', All The President's Men is a conspiracy and political film by which all others are now judged, and that is exactly the way it should be. Its influence is there for everyone to see in other impressive films in this genre such as the underrated Shattered Glass, the true diamond in Michael Mann's career to date, The Insider, and the outstanding 1980s British political thriller Defence Of The Realm.

Unlike other heavily influential films, this has yet to be outdone by any of those that it has influenced. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman have rarely been better than here, but a support cast that makes perfect use of Jason Robards and Hal Holbrook despite their roles not amounting to much actual running time balances things nicely and makes sure that the headliners are not over-balancing the riveting material.

Pakula was, of course, a marvellous director when he was approaching or at his best but unfortunately he never quite hit those heights as often as he perhaps should have done. But this, Klute and The Parallax View are a triple-whammy rarely matched in quality by any other American director, at the very least. On its own, All The President's Men is one of very best films of arguably the very best film decade.

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